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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Monday, May 22, 2006

The Washboard Dance on a Monday night

At 8 PM on a Monday night here is what the bees looked like outside of my Destin hive.

They are all doing what's known in the bee world as the Washboard dance. I found an article about it on a website from UC Davis' entomology department. The article said:

"Years ago Dr. Norman Gary and Dr. Stanley Snyder tried to define and determine a purpose for the Washboard dance of honey bees. That
dance is described as bees with their heads pointing down, rocking back and forth on their second and third pairs of legs. They move their mandibles as if scraping the surface.

K. Boherer (Montgomery College, MD) and J. Pettis (Beltsville, MD) took a close look at the behavior and found the following. Workers don’t do that dance until they are 13 days old. Peak
behavior exists between 15 and 25 days old. Dancing can start in the morning, but more dancers are seen in late afternoon and into the evening. They danced a bit less on glass than on slate or
wood, but not significantly differently.

Exactly what they are doing still remains a mystery."

In The Hive and the Honey Bee, the authors suggest that washboard behavior may serve as a "cleaning process by which the bees scrape and polish the surface of the hive."

BTW, for an amazing picture, click on Dr. Norman Gary's name (above)!

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1 comment:

  1. I found that H. Storch's in his classic book "At the Hive Entrance" writes:

    To what does one attribute the "smoothing" movements that certain of the bees make before the hive entrance?

    To find the cause of these movements, which are particularly evident when the pollen harvest is plentiful, I used a magnifying glass to observe bees buzy "smoothing", without disturbing them. Only in a few cases did they continue their movements. Thanks to the magnifying glass I could ascertain that small pollen particles, invisible to the naked eye, remained atta ched to the bees hair. These were certainly not young bees but foragers.
    The colony I was watching was harvesting an unusually large amount of pollen. Whilst in other colonies I saw few or no bees "smoothing", in this one it was frequent especially when the pollen was plentiful. Finally, I concluded that the bees made these movements, which sometimes continued a long time, to rid themselves of these minute pollen grains, which slide into the gap between the head and the thorax, and
    can be particularly uncomfortable and annoying.

    Although these observations are many years old I have not published them in previous editions for I doubted the exactitude of my conclusions. Recently I learnt that Dr. Karl Freudenstein had arrived at the same conclusions as myself and all my doubts have thus been removed.

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